All Entries For quick tips
There are no shortcuts to living a long and healthy life. By now, it's common knowledge that exercise, a healthy diet, and abstaining from tobacco are critical lifestyle choices that help people maintain a healthy weight and reduce their risk of countless diseases, including heart disease—the number one killer of men and women in the United States. Still, Americans are getting heavier—and unhealthier—despite a growing library of scientific evidence telling us what we should and shouldn't do in order to prevent these problems.
We know what to do. We know which foods are healthy and which ones aren't. We know that we should exercise more, combat stress, stop smoking and get more sleep (among other things). The problem lies in actually DOING it.
How do people change a lifetime of poor habits? How do you lose weight when a toxic food environment tempts you with unhealthy fare to eat at every turn? How do you stick with an exercise plan when it's uncomfortable—or just plain easier to relax on the couch after a stressful day at work? WHY aren't we doing what we know we should be doing?
To answer these questions, the American Heart Association (AHA) looked at 74 published studies on weight-loss, physical activity, and dietary interventions to find out which behavior-change strategies helped people reach their goals and stay heart-healthy. They weren't looking for what to eat or how to exercise; they searched for the specific habits, behaviors and strategies that helped people adopt these healthier habits and stick with them. Their findings, released online last week (view the statement in its entirety here), will also appear in the July 27 issue of Circulation.
They discovered that adopting a healthy lifestyle could boost Americans' average life expectancy by almost 7 years—and doing so is easier than you may think. Read More ›
You've started cooking at home, and you stick to the perimeter of the store when grocery shopping. You even measure portions. So why are so many of us wasting healthy food and reaching for takeout menus?
Open your fridge and freezer, and the answer might be simpler than you think. If you're spending good money on healthy food, but your fridge and freezer are messy and disorganized, it's going to make healthy cooking more of a chore.
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Some people buy dresses. I buy spices. They're my vice.
To me, food isn't worth eating if it's bland and flavorless. Novice cooks might reach for the unhealthy trinity of fat, salt or sugar for flavor, and they'll turn out some tasty food--but it won't be healthy. A good cook knows that flavor starts with your ingredients. Start with wholesome food that's as close to the source as possible (as unprocessed as can be), and use herbs and spices to impart flavor.
Spices are pricey, but a little goes a long way. Learn how to maximize flavor and get the most out of your investment by watching the video below. I'll share my tips for storing spices and using them to add flavor to your favorite foods.
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Usually, the average exerciser doesn't think about physiology or kinesiology when he or she is exercising. Sure, you think about form, doing your exercises correctly, and achieving balance—both in terms of overall fitness (a balance of cardio, strength training and flexibility) and individual workouts (a balance in the body where you exercise all of your major muscle groups). And that's great! But there is also a lot going on in your body during each workout, and sometimes, learning more about exactly what is happening can help you work out more effectively so you can get better results.
Whether or not you've heard of concentric and eccentric muscle contractions, you can benefit from learning the difference—especially because focusing on ONE of them can help you get even better results from your strength training program—without spending more time in the gym. Read More ›
By Beth Donovan (~INDYGIRL)
Being disabled or having chronic pain or illness makes exercise difficult if not impossible. Some days I wake up and just want to stay under the covers in bed, where the pain is at its best level of control. That's no kind of life and led me to weighing 460 pounds.
After joining SparkPeople, I learned that short bouts of fitness add up. I started my fitness journey by going to my doctor/nurse practitioner, and they set me up with in-home physical therapy. There are plenty of physical therapy options depending on your insurance coverage. I've done pool exercise, mild gym exercise, total gym exercise, and table exercise. You should see your doctor or health-care professional before considering which option might be best for your disability. Together, you can decide whether you might be able to do some of the exercises at home.
If cost is a concern, it would definitely be cheaper to get a gym membership with a pool than to pay physical therapy bills. A few sessions might give you the basics and you could go from there. Some gyms have very well-trained water aerobics instructors, so do some research before signing any papers. Another way to save money is on the mild gym and table exercise area. A few sessions of therapy can give you the basics, and you can continue to exercise at home. Generally, physical therapists use equipment like exercise bands, stability balls, and very light weights. These sessions also use various standing poses and the table exercises use laying poses to help stretch the muscles. Physical therapy helps you gain strength, flexibility and endurance to go to the next level.
There are indeed other ways to get moving without therapy. The little gadget in the photo above (called an arm cycle or arm ergometer) can be used for arms or legs while sitting. When I had physical therapy, it was one of the machines they had me use to reap the benefits of cardio using only my arms. There are machines of various grades out there, so read the reviews. Some are cheaply made pedal machines, while others are made to give very intense aerobic workouts for people who are undergoing rehabilitation. It's a great way to get aerobic exercise without having to stand.
Amazon.com also has DVDs of bed and chair exercise including aerobics, yoga, tai-chi, and other things to keep workouts interesting and off your feet.
At 460 pounds, these are the workouts I created to get stronger and ready to walk again: Read More ›
Just how many meals can you get from one recipe? No, this is not a Food Network challenge but a real life, “how am I going to make it through the week and provide my family with some healthy, fast, and flavorful meals?” scenario. I am a working mother to three and wife who fits daily exercise into her life. I strive to, at some point over the weekend, make a one dish meal and turn it into two or three meals for the early part of the week or for “fall back freezer meals.”
Today let's take a look at one recipe, my Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, then see how this versatile, healthy and filling dish can be stretched for a few meals. The soup itself makes 12 servings, plus an extra quart of broth, so there are plenty of possibilities! Read More ›
We recently sat in on a conference call with health expert Dr. Mehmet Oz, who shared with us some great tips on staying healthy throughout the holiday season. "The stress in holidays a lot more sophisticated and complex, with visiting relatives… and additional burdens of shopping and planning," he said. But that doesn’t mean that healthy living had to go on hiatus from Thanksgiving through the New Year. Here are his seven best tips, along with some further reading to help you stay in tip-top shape! Read More ›
It's the time of year we both love and dread. For people who celebrate, the holidays are a time of joy, fun, volunteering and parties; but they're also associated with overindulgence, sweets and weight gain. Is it possible to stave off weight gain during the holidays without feeling deprived?
I sure think so. Many people manage to survive the holidays without switching belt notches. Some even make it to January and go down a pants size. How do they do it? Read More ›
The Washington Post's food critic, Tom Sietsema dines out like it's his job…because it is. He spends 40 hours a week in restaurants, sampling food, wine and desserts to review for The Post. To many, it may sound like a dream job. But to others, you may wonder how a job like that would affect your waistline.
In some ways, it is hard to say since Sietsema takes deliberate measures to keep his identity a secret. What does he really look like? Only a few really know.
But he is conscious about his weight. A recent profile by Andrew Alexander, the man who eats for a living shared four excellent tips that we can use to enjoy the foods we love and still manage our weights. Read More ›
Faster than a speeding bullet, there's a new approach to healthy living can make you fit as a fiddle. And it's as easy as 1-2-3!
It's called "stealth health" and it's a philosophy that's gaining ground among experts, food manufacturers—and people who want to live a healthier life. Even if you haven't heard of it (I hadn't either), you're probably already using these principles into your life. The concept, as explained in this WebMD article is nothing new to most of us at SparkPeople. It's about taking small actions every day to improve your health, nutrition and fitness levels in BIG ways. We've been advocating a small-steps approach for years, whether in the form of 10-minute workouts or fast break goals. We believe that doing something is always better than doing nothing. And yes, that 10 minutes on the treadmill or that single serving of vegetables DOES make a difference.
When you start small, you feel accomplished. That initial success inspires you to make additional positive changes in your life. So you continue, getting healthier, fitter, and leaner over time—all by starting with a few small changes. Ask some of your SparkFriends, and I'll bet they'll say that this approach has worked for them.
As I read the article and tips about stealth health, I started to think about the ways I sneak a little bit of health into my days. I'm a big believer that small steps—in fitness, nutrition and motivation—really do make a difference, no matter where you are in your lifestyle journey. I use them all the time myself! So I came up with a short list of small things I do to affect my health in a positive way. Read More ›
Every year or two, I get antsy with my fitness routine. My usual cardio becomes boring. Standard strength training doesn't hold my interest anymore. I get bored with my workouts and so I pick up a new pursuit, like Pilates, kettlebells or outdoor cycling. My latest thing is running. I used to be a competitive runner in high school and stuck with endurance running (6-8 miles several times per week) after graduating. But that got stale after a while and I didn't like exercising by myself all the time. So I took up Spinning, which has been my go-to cardio for almost 10 years now. I still love it, but as I was looking for something new to keep my interest and challenge my body in new ways, I returned to running.
At first, it was just once a week that I'd head outside for a 30-minute run. It wasn't easy, but I liked that about it. After a few weeks, I added another day of running to my week. Now I'm up to three times per week, still around 30 to 35 minutes each time.
Last week, I was ready for the next step: ramping up my running time to 40 minutes straight. I was tired that morning and not feeling entirely motivated to go 5 minutes longer, which also meant waking up earlier (and you may remember that I'm not a morning person). But then something happened that gave me a newfound energy to keep going... Read More ›
September is National Yoga Month, so there's no better time to summon the courage to give it a try. You've heard all about how yoga can help increase flexibility, decrease stress and even relieve minor back pain. You've dispelled the myths that all yogis are human pretzels who wear skimpy clothes and patchouli.
Now it's time to find a yoga studio or a class at your gym and head to class.
In my classes, I always try to approach new students before class begins to ease any apprehension they might have and answer questions. Here's a primer to help you feel right at home on the mat! While yogis are known for their kindness and compassion, no one wants to make a fitness faux pas!
Yoga is practiced barefoot, so be prepared. There's no need to get a pedicure for the occasion, but I like to give my feet a quick rinse before class, especially if they've been cooped up in closed-toe shoes all day. You spend a great deal of time focusing on gripping your feet, spreading your toes and evenly distributing your weight over your entire feet. Sweaty, dirty feet stick to yoga mats, and if you have lotion or cream on your feet, you can slip.
Wear whatever shoes you'd like to the class, but take your shoes off before entering the yoga room. Most studios have shelves for shoes either just inside the door or in the lobby. At a gym, most people take off their shoes as they enter the room.
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Today is Canada Day and Fourth of July is Saturday, which means plenty of celebrating across the continent. While a family cookout or a neighborhood barbecue is supposed to be a time to eat, drink and be merry, those of us trying to follow a healthy path can find such events to be more trying than entertaining.
The endless platters of grilled meats.
The bottomless bowls of mayo-laden salads.
The ceaseless parade of refined carbs.
A typical meal from a cookout can have more than 1,500 calories and almost as much fat as you should eat for an entire day. You can cut the calories in half and boost the flavor with a few simple tricks!
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Raise your hand if you walk for fitness! (My hand is up, too.) Now raise your hand if you always stretch after heading outdoors for a walk. (My hand is up…halfway. I admit that sometimes I skip it.) We all know that stretching is important and that we should do it each time we work out. But sometimes a beautiful spring day lures you outside and to save time, you skimp on stretching, figuring that it doesn't matter. Or maybe you know you should stretch but you're just not sure what to do. Perhaps you fall into another category: You want to stretch but don't want to sit on the ground or interrupt your outdoor walk. No matter what category you fall into, it's time for a change.
Spring is the season for walking, whether you're training for a local 5K walk or just enjoying the outdoors. That's why I recently appeared on Cincinnati's FOX 19 morning show to give some tips to spring walkers, including 5 stretches walkers can do while they're outdoors. What's so great about these stretches is that you can do them on the sidewalk while standing—you don't need anything special and you won't lose the momentum of your workout or look weird to passersby to popping a squat on the dirty sidewalk (ew!). Check out the video for yourself (and hear about my brush with celebrity in the green room at the station!) Read More ›
With health care cost rising at an alarming rate, having a list of common screening tests to ask your health care provider about may help keep you on the path of healthy living. While many of these tests are not diagnostic in nature, they do allow your doctor to determine if you are at greater risk for developing certain diseases or ailments.
Some of these tests are age specific, nevertheless, if you have a family history of a specific disease, such as colon cancer, breast cancer, or early onset osteoporosis, it is important to discuss your options with your doctor to determine what is best for you. Read More ›